Title: I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl
Author: Kelle Groom
Publisher: Free Press
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
Hardcover: 256 pages
From the Publisher:
At the age of fifteen, Kelle Groom found that alcohol allowed her to connect with people and explore intimacy in ways she’d never been able to experience before. She began drinking before class, often blacked out at bars, and fell into destructive relationships. At nineteen, already an out-of-control alcoholic, she was pregnant. Accepting the heartbreaking fact that she was incapable of taking care of her son herself, she gave him up for adoption to her aunt and uncle. They named him Tommy and took him home with them to Massachusetts. When he was nine months old, the boy was diagnosed with leukemia—but Kelle’s parents, wanting the best for her, kept her mostly in the dark about his health. When Tommy died he was only fourteen months old. Having lost him irretrievably, Kelle went into an accelerating downward spiral of self-destruction. She emerged from this free fall only when her desire to stop drinking connected her with those who helped her to get sober.
In stirring, hypnotic prose, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl explores the most painful aspects of Kelle’s addiction and loss with unflinching honesty and bold determination. Urgent and vital, exquisite and raw, her story is as much about maternal love as it is about survival, as much about acceptance as it is about forgiveness. Kelle’s longing for her son remains twenty-five years after his death. It is an ache intensified, as she lost him twice—first to adoption and then to cancer. In this inspiring portrait of redemption, Kelle charts the journey that led her to accept her addiction and grief and to learn how to live in the world.
Through her family’s history and the story of her son’s cancer, Kelle traces with clarity and breathtaking grace the forces that shape a life, a death, and a literary voice.
I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl is a poignant memoir by Kelle Groom, reflecting on her battle with alcohol addiction amidst the loss of her young son. In her autobiography, Groom tells of her discovery of the enabling effects of alcohol as a teen that ultimately lead to her alcohol abuse and an unexpected pregnancy. Although giving her son up for adoption to her aunt and uncle was the most loving action she could take, as she was deeply dependent on alcohol, heartache was soon to come when she learns that her son has died from leukemia shortly after his first birthday. Describing how she effectively experienced the loss of her son first in the adoption and now with his death, one can only imagine the pain endured by this young adult, a pain made worse by her own out-of-control illness that was becoming ever more consuming. In an honest and brave confrontation with her addiction, the losses and the unconditional love given her during her darkest experiences, Groom provides hope for those suffering similarly as she draws upon the events that lead to acceptance, healing and her ultimate self-redemption. Though I cannot personally relate to what Groom experienced, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl touched my heart and may provide the sort of inspiration for others with similar struggles to begin the path toward recovery. I would recommend I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl to anyone who enjoys memoirs and for discussion groups.
To learn more about author Kelle Groom and her books, please visit her website.
I received a complimentary copy of I Wore the Ocean In the Shape of a Girl by Kelle Groom from Free Press. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.